The pros and cons of living in the suburban area of Bucharest, Romania

Today I will tell you a long story about life in the suburbs of Bucharest and why we are looking to move from here.

From 1997 to 2006, we resided in a two-bedroom apartment along one of Bucharest’s main boulevards. The kitchen windows faced the back of the building, while the living room and bedroom windows overlooked the bustling boulevard. Initially, this arrangement was acceptable, but as the city became more congested and traffic intensified, problems arose.

Around 2000, the municipality decided to widen the boulevard and add an extra lane to accommodate the growing traffic. They removed the old trees that provided shade and shifted the road closer to our windows. This increased noise and dust, forcing us to keep our windows shut to prevent a thick layer of dust from accumulating on our furniture.

Peaceful nights became a rarity. All the time, fire, ambulance, and police cars passed under our windows with sirens going. During summer months, illegal motorcycle races were held late at night, heavily contributing to the noise problem. Then noisy trams rumbled by in the early morning hours. Each and every day.

The combination of dust and noise became unbearable, prompting our move to the outskirts of Bucharest in 2006. We settled in a commune, which in the administrative-territorial organization of Romania is a collection of villages with a lower population. We purchased a spacious house on 1000 square meters of land. Living in such a commune had some advantages, such as lower taxes.

While we found the tranquility we craved, construction sites in the booming area still generated dust. Despite seemingly cleaner air, we later discovered through community environmental sensor networks that the air quality was comparable to the city.

We found that in winter, we had higher pollution levels in the suburbs. In many poor areas, people heat with wood stoves and put on fire anything that can burn, from furniture scraps to all kinds of waste. How toxic the smoke from the chimneys is hard to say, as there are no affordable sensors to measure the chemical composition. We had to buy air purifiers for each room and schedule our outdoor activities according to pollution levels. Summer air quality was better, but our proximity to a lake and insufficient government intervention led to a mosquito infestation.

We traded one problem for another, which added to our desire to move away from the suburbs.

The house — a permanent source of expenditure

As we discuss outdoor activities, the unexpected costs of maintaining our garden are worth mentioning. Initially, we hired a company to handle everything, until they started to be assholes and demand more and more money every month. Eventually, we gave them the finger and decided to take care of garden maintenance ourselves. This required investing in a petrol-powered lawnmower, a garden tiller, and numerous smaller tools. We still outsource spring tree trimming to a specialist, as it requires expertise.

Unfortunately, the climate has changed significantly in recent years. As a result, we spend more time indoors due to scorching evening temperatures and swarms of mosquitoes. Consequently, we’ve grown dissatisfied with the cost-benefit ratio of owning a large patch of land.

Additionally, our household expenses have increased, particularly energy costs, which have reached absurd levels. We hope that relocating to a smaller house will lead to significant savings, enabling us to travel more or pursue other exciting activities.

Infrastructure — The Greatest Challenge of Suburban Living

Our most significant dissatisfaction with suburban life stems from inadequate infrastructure. When we first moved here, the community had around 6,000 residents. After 17 years of urban development, the population has swelled to nearly 60,000 — a tenfold increase. Regrettably, the infrastructure needs to catch up with this population growth.

Traffic — A 17-Year Transformation

Seventeen years ago, reaching central Bucharest took up to 30 minutes, even during rush hour. Nowadays, it can take 40–45 minutes to exit our village and enter Bucharest during peak times, followed by another 40–45 minutes to reach the city center.

Public transportation is of little help, with only one overcrowded bus line available. The bus moves slowly along a congested boulevard before finally connecting to the subway at the end of the line. Although two additional bus lines have been introduced to serve densely populated areas, they are too far from our location to be helpful.

Consequently, we often rely on our vehicles for transportation, which presents the challenge of finding parking in downtown Bucharest. Occasionally, we use an alternative transport service similar to Uber called https://black.cab/. However, their prices have also increased recently, prompting us to consider the monthly costs associated with this service.

Regrettably, we foresee no significant changes occurring soon. There has been some discussion about introducing an urban train; however, the proposed stations would be far from us, and the implementation deadline is set for 2035.


While working from home and having a flexible schedule might help us avoid traffic problems, the upcoming challenge of our daughter starting school in a few years complicates matters.

This has become a critical issue for us, as we only have two unappealing options, and it’s the primary reason we’re considering selling our house and moving to an apartment in the city.

To better understand our desire to send our daughter to a good school, I must explain something about the educational system in Romania: high school admissions are based on a national evaluation. All students participate in this assessment, and a computer algorithm allocates them to high schools according to their test results and the choices each student makes. So naturally, this creates a rush to secure a spot in a good school, as a high grade in the national assessment can improve the chances of admission to a prestigious high school.

Returning to our current dilemma, the closest school to our home is 1.5 km away and performs poorly. The nearest reputable school is 2.2 km away. In both cases, we would need to drive our daughter to school during her early years since public transportation is not an option. This situation is exacerbated by the hundreds of other parents doing the same, causing traffic nightmares and turning a short trip into a 45-minute ordeal. This cuts into our child’s sleep, only to stay stuck in traffic for extended periods.

After much deliberation, we’ve concluded that our best course of action is to move back to Bucharest and find a place within a 15–20 minute walking distance from a reputable school. This way, we won’t contribute to the traffic problem, save time, and make it more convenient to participate in extra school activities.

Health services

Access to healthcare services in our suburban area is also limited. The commune lacks a hospital and has only one state-run polyclinic and a few private ones, none employing highly-regarded doctors.

One notable improvement, however, is the construction of an ambulance station within the commune. This development has significantly reduced the time it takes to receive emergency assistance.

Nevertheless, we still rely on services in Bucharest for most healthcare needs.
Restaurants, Shopping, Parks

Regarding shopping, we are well situated with a large shopping center nearby. However, we are far from a mall offering amenities such as a cinema, food court, and other leisure facilities.

Local restaurant options are limited, with mediocre pizza places and grills dominating the scene. For a fine dining experience, we still need to head to Bucharest.

Our community has a relatively new and well-maintained children’s playground compared to similar ones in Bucharest. We also have a small forest nearby, but it is poorly maintained and littered with garbage, making it unsuitable for walks. So instead, we often prefer the older parks in Bucharest, featuring mature trees and cool shade. Ironically, we drive 10 km to enjoy a stroll through these parks.

Ultimately, our suburban area faces similar challenges as Bucharest, a city with notably limited green space per capita.

Back to the city

These problems have worsened in recent years, and unfortunately, we see no chance to change anything for the better. So, in the end, we will have to manage this on our own and move where we have the necessary infrastructure now instead of waiting for the required infrastructure to be built here.

We understand that moving back to the city will involve certain costs. However, we are ready to accept these expenses as the alternative is spending excessive time in traffic, and we only have one life to live. Therefore, we aim to save time and spend it as effectively as possible.

And this is why I wrote this long blog post, to serve as a guide and a warning for those considering a similar move. If someone had told me about the pros and cons of suburban living 17 years ago, we might have opted for a more central location.

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